Arsenal build momentum for trip to Anfield to face Liverpool

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s flying form means they go to Liverpool with the right belief to maintain their place at the Premier League summit.

The Gunners have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with a St Stephen’s Day shock defeat at Southampton the only blemish on their recent good run.

Wenger made five changes for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round 3-1 win over Sunderland, with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker rested.

Arsenal are expected to return to full strength for their trip to Anfield, as they look to defend their two-point lead at the top of the table. 

Wenger, who remains hopeful a deal for Egypt international midfielder Mohamed Elneny will be completed by the end of the week, feels his side is in good stead heading into the game with Jurgen Klopp’s men.

“The momentum creates confidence and confidence is vital at that level,” he said. 

“In December and now in January we have been consistent and we go into a very important part of the season, because we play many games and that consistency is a good basis to go into the next game with the right belief.

“The consistency of our results is very important. 

“Therefore, it was important to win on Saturday and not to break that belief. 

“It was good for me to see some players that have played less and to be down 1-0 and respond in the way we did and have an outstanding second half. 

“It was all a very positive basis in preparation for Liverpool.”

While Wenger will call upon his key men at Liverpool, one player who will not feature is Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, who continues to recover from a hamstring complaint.

“For Alexis, the Liverpool game will come too soon for him but he has a chance to be available for Stoke and his development is going well. 

“He is always keen to play.”

Joel Campbell’s form in big games means he is likely to start for Arsenal tonight, as Wenger admits he has been pleasantly surprised by the forward’s emergence. 

The Costa Rica international scored his third goal of the season in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round victory over Sunderland having established himself firmly in the first-team picture.

Wenger opted against sending him out on loan again at the start of this season and, after injuries to the likes of Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell seized his opportunity with both hands.

Asked if he has been surprised by the 23-year-old, Wenger replied: “Yes. You want to be surprised by the quality of your players and where he surprises you is in the intensity of his teamwork.

“I have the choice on the flank between many players and he is one of the players who has come in at a very sensitive period.

“I flat-refused to let him go, because I saw something in him that gives you belief, because of his attitude.

“It is true he had players in front of him and you think ‘can you block a player like that?’ 

“But he was four times out on loan. He came back and you think ‘do I let him go out on loan again?’”

With Campbell’s performances on the flank, a return to fitness for Walcott, and both Sanchez and Ozil also capable of playing out wide, Wenger is now looking to shape Oxlade-Chamberlain into a central player. 

The England midfielder started as part of a narrow three-man midfield in the win over Sunderland and Wenger feels he has the qualities to make it in that role.

“He has the attributes to play in central midfield, he has that important quality — a little surge to get out of pressure,” Wenger said. That is why on Saturday I played 4-3-3, because he is really suited to be right-sided, box-to-box in a 4-3-3, he really fits in there.”


Orlagh Kelly owns The Reading Room bookshop on Main Street in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim.We sell books: The Reading Room - ‘Small bookshops, curated by people who care, make a difference’

As Stockton’s Wing release a retrospective album, Mike Hanrahan tells Donal O’Keeffe about getting back on the road, and his love of cookingStill a beautiful affair: Mike Hanrahan talks about getting back on the road with Stockton's Wing

An ongoing cull is resulting in a major reduction in the deer population in one of the country’s most visited natural attractions.Donal Hickey: Deer birth patterns evolving

A Courtmacsherry neighbour, Kathy Gannon tells me that when the tide is out, the vast acres of clean, grey mud of the bay reflect the sun in splendour in the clear, sharp air.Damien Enright: ‘How enchanting for humanity that we have birds’

More From The Irish Examiner